In which Dr Khuly expresses her frustration...

Team Dolittler I'm a huge fan of Dr Patty Khuly. Not only is she a fellow Wharton alum and UPenn Veterinarian (they are called VMDs not DVMs by the way), but she's articulate, talented, and holds nothing back.

I had the pleasure of hanging out with Patty for an hour or so at the NAVC recently and won't ever forget the snippets of conversation I caught between Patty and Betsy Saul (the founding goddess of Petfinder) regarding the topic of eating animals (Patty just happened to throw out into the conversation that she'd be happy to eat dog meat while Betsy, an avowed vegan, was explaining the conundrum of the farmer that rented her fields to keep cows. A rare moment...)

But I digress...

Patty blogged yesterday about her frustration over genetic conditions in purebred dogs. Patty has been writing articles on geneic conditions for the Embrace pet health section. To put it in her own words:

After spending 600 carefully chosen words describing the basic devastations of each genetic disease I profile, I inevitably arrive at a section titled, “Prevention.” Here, I always detail the ways we can mitigate the condition’s overall impact on canine and feline health. And it almost always goes something like this:

“There is no direct mode of prevention for X disease. Consequently, genetic counseling to advance the sterilization of affected animals and their first degree relatives (parents and siblings) is a fundamental approach to limiting the inheritance of the genetic material responsible for this disorder.”

She goes on to point out the obvious...

Indeed, there’s only one way to prevent genetic disease and that’s to use our "superior" human brains to accomplish the obvious: breed it out of them. Which is why I‘ve taken to adding the following brand of statement to my “Prevention” sections:

“Breeders should be counseled to abandon entire breeding lines when a trait this deleterious arises. Moreover, X extreme conformation should be eliminated from breed standards to minimize the inheritance of diseases directly associated with it.”

Much good work has been done by some breed clubs on certain genetic conditions (feel free to add some examples in the comments) Patty has a point - genetic conditions can only be "cured" by selective breeding.

Check out the rest of the article over at Dr Khuly's blog Dolittler...

Breed Focus: the Puggle

IMG_0076 One of the dangers of coming to work for Embrace is that you suddenly find the urge to adopt a pet or three. Laura, our Controller, has recently become pet mom to Cooper, a rescued puppy mill Puggle - a hybrid dog that is a cross between a Beagle and a Pug.

When we looked up what the Embrace Pet Health Center had to say about Puggles:

It's hard to imagine a more incongruous mix than the loving, playful, lap-sitting Pug and the independent nose on four legs known as the Beagle, but that's what a Puggle is. While both breeds are short-coated, small, cute and popular, that's about all they have in common. At their best, Puggles are people-friendly, enthusiastic, trainable best friends. At their worst, they're stubborn, selectively deaf, uncooperative and just not that into you. But the worst thing they are is a top money-maker for puppy mills and unscrupulous breeders.

Cooper 006 (Medium) Cooper is a sweetheart but he does have an undershot jaw, more like a bulldog (so we're wondering if he's a Beabull - but that's another story) so that might be an issue going forward. But what about other hidden issues?

Puggles are susceptible to the health problems of both the Pug and the Beagle, although possibly at a lower rate than purebred dogs. Beagles, Pugs and Puggles alike can share the same health problems common to the smallest breeds of dog, such as kneecaps that easily slip out of place (luxating patellas), breathing difficulties caused by a collapsing trachea, and dental problems.

For more on health issues Puggles are prone to, check out the rest of the write up on Puggles over at the Embrace Pet Health Center.

Laura Bennett and Embrace on video for The Fund For Our Economic Future

The Fund For Our Economic Future is one of the leading lights in NE Ohio for entrepreneurship. We are incredibly lucky to have such a supportive organization in our backyard.

From their website:

The Fund for Our Economic Future unites philanthropy in Northeast Ohio to strengthen the region's economic competitiveness through grantmaking, research and civic engagement.

I was interviewed by this group in the summer and here is what they put together. That's me with my cat Lily. I never knew I could make a face like that :)

Guest Post: Wellness Care from a Veterinarian’s Perspective

I am very pleased to have Dr. Doug Kenney guest post today. He has very kindly written a blog post on pet wellness and why wellness care is so critical to a pet's long-term health and life span.

I appreciate the opportunity to write a blog post during Embrace’s Wellness Month because veterinarians have a unique perspective when it comes to wellness care that pet owners don’t have. Daily, we see patients that are injured or sick needlessly from a wide variety of causes. Sadly, we see pets die that didn’t have to. Why? Because the illnesses or injuries that affect these pets could easily have been prevented saving the pet much pain and suffering and the pet owner much money.

P1100382 The essence of wellness care is prevention. The old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is certainly true. Wise pet owners recognize that it is much better and much less expensive to prevent diseases than try to cure them. Dr. Rex Rigg’s post earlier this month gives excellent examples of how early detection of disease through wellness screening can increase the length and quality of your pet’s life.

It is very important for pet owners to build a relationship with a veterinarian and hospital staff who know them and their pets personally. Together, you form a partnership with the goal of keeping your pets healthy so that you and your pets may enjoy many happy years together. In my opinion, this relationship is best forged with wellness care.

How does this partnership work to benefit your pet? An example is the prevention of the most common disease that affects dogs and cats, periodontal disease. Your veterinarian helps by performing regular dental examinations and teeth cleanings. However, home care, by regularly brushing your pet’s teeth, is also needed to prevent this disease.

It’s great to have pet insurance in case you need it for a serious illness or injury, but it’s even better to prevent problems by making wellness care a priority. Embrace’s Wellness Rewards program helps you do just that. See Laura’s explanation of why Embrace offers wellness coverage and the details of how the program works in a couple of earlier posts this month. Since most pet owners will easily spend $200 annually on wellness exams, vaccinations as needed, lab tests, dental cleaning, heartworm and flea and tick preventatives, etc., you’re guaranteed to come out $51 to the good by getting this coverage*.

* for annual pay policies (monthly pay policies gain $21)

Dr Doug Kenney Dr. Kenney graduated in 1977 from the Auburn University School of Veterinary Medicine. He practices small animal medicine and surgery at Frayser Raleigh Animal Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. His main interests are wellness care and preventative medicine and showing pet owners how they can save money on their pet's healthcare. He also has an interest in pet health insurance and how it can be beneficial to veterinarians, pet owners, and their pets. He authors a blog at

Veterinary Data Standards at the 2010 North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando

Vet XML Let's talk veterinary data!

Every year, there are a couple of mega conferences for veterinarians and this one, the NAVC as it's fondly referred to, is one of them. Embrace is not exhibiting here this year although we have in the past but I am here to attend the North American Pet Heath Insurance Association's quarterly Board meeting (NAPHIA).

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with a number of pet insurers, veterinarians, pharma and microchip companies and veterinary software companies in discussions on bringing in standards for veterinary data. Data standards, such as those the Vet XML Consortium have in place in the United Kingdom, mean for example, there would be a consistent list of procedures, diagnoses, and breeds between veterinary management systems.

I know it doesn't sound particularly sexy but it's crucially important for everyone in the veterinary business that data standards come about. Unlike human medicine, veterinary medicine has nothing in place now. For example:

  • veterinarians could learn more about the prevelence of different hereditary conditions between breeds if the breed list and diagnoses lists were common across databases.
  • your primary veterinarian could send your pet's records electronically to the emergency clinic you've taken your pet to in a blink of an eye or to a new veterinarian you have decided to go to
  • Pet insurers would be able to receive claim information electronically in a consistent manner across veterinary practices, saving a lot of manual effort that is required now.

This would all be good for you, the pet parent, reducing costs, helping understand disease prevelence, and making veterinary data portable, amongst the many many benefits.

Fingers and paws crossed we can get moving on these standards asap.

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